What’s be­hind money squab­bles?

Toronto Star - - LIFE - El­lie

For 14 years, I never con­sid­ered di­vorce, but life be­came tough the last years, es­pe­cially fi­nan­cially. I had to end ma­ter­nity leave early and be­come the main bread­win­ner.

I still trusted my hus­band, we had joint ac­counts and the house was in both our names. I sup­ported his full-time school­ing for sev­eral months and ended up with large debt. When he even­tu­ally worked, we had op­po­site shifts, be­com­ing like strangers. Harsh words were said and I re­al­ized that he abused my kind­ness.

In a sep­a­ra­tion, it’d be hard to prove that all the debt isn’t only mine. He de­nied do­ing any­thing on pur­pose and promised to help pay the debt through his new job.

But he’s such a spender! He started to buy the love of our teenage son with very ex­pen­sive tech toys which I didn’t ap­prove on our tight bud­get.

I felt that he took ad­van­tage of me.

I ex­pe­ri­enced other bro­ken trusts (with a close friend and at the family doc­tor) which made me an­gry and self­ish. (A good friend had the courage to tell me how I be­haved, as I couldn’t see that).

I kept ask­ing my­self, “Why is ev­ery­one tak­ing ad­van­tage of me?”

Later I for­gave and tried to find in­ner peace but the hurt’s still there.

How is it bet­ter to deal with the debt — should I wait un­til he pays it all, and then sep­a­rate if I can­not end this hurt en­tirely? Un­cer­tain Steps

You’ve been deeply af­fected by these events. It’s some­how made you more con­cerned about the debt, than the mar­riage and ef­fects of pos­si­ble sep­a­ra­tion on you and your family.

You feel he’s taken ad­van­tage of you, and maybe he did. Now he’s work­ing and should be pay­ing off some of the debt.

The hurt­ful ac­tions by oth­ers shouldn’t be added onto feel­ings about your hus­band.

Your cur­rent out­look on life is mud­dled by re­sent­ments, and fi­nan­cial anx­i­ety (which should be eas­ing some­what if he’s pay­ing to­wards it).

You two need fi­nan­cial ad­vice. Per­haps mov­ing away from a joint ac­count to sep­a­rate in­di­vid­ual ones, with a de­fined con­tri­bu­tion from each to­wards the debt, would help. A debt coun­sel­lor at your bank, or your ac­coun­tant, can help you with that de­ci­sion.

Mar­i­tal or in­di­vid­ual coun­selling’s also needed even if you sep­a­rate even­tu­ally.

It’ll help you fo­cus on the emo­tional is­sues for which “the debt” has be­come the sym­bol of your mar­i­tal dis­con­tent. I’ve been pro­moted at work to team leader, re­plac­ing the for­mer per­son who spent five years over­see­ing a di­vi­sion of our com­pany. He was au­to­cratic and worked only with a cou­ple of his favourites. I’ve been asked to be far more in­clu­sive and make pos­i­tive changes.

I’ve in­vited other col­leagues to join in a more col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach, only to have this for­mer leader ques­tion ev­ery­thing and openly crit­i­cize me.

How do I han­dle this hos­tile co-worker? Change Agent

You’re the com­pany’s new choice as leader and must show confidence in your­self.

Go ahead with your pro­posed changes, but first pre­pare the col­leagues you in­vite into con­sul­ta­tion with you on these moves.

Be forth­right and con­fi­dent about why the changes are needed, but pay at­ten­tion to oth­ers’ opin­ions. If some are worth­while, show that you’re open to fine-tun­ing.

Mean­while, if he con­tin­ues his crit­i­cal re­sponses, keep a record of whether and how he’s cre­at­ing a di­vided work en­vi­ron­ment within the com­pany.

Be­fore other em­ploy­ees get too di­vided un­der his in­flu­ence, take the record to Hu­man Re­sources and/or your boss.

You two need fi­nan­cial ad­vice. Per­haps mov­ing away from a joint ac­count to sep­a­rate in­di­vid­ual ones, with a de­fined con­tri­bu­tion from each to­wards the debt, would help

Tip of the day When money’s the main threat to a re­la­tion­ship, probe the emo­tional is­sues be­hind it. Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day. Email el­lie@thes­tar.ca or visit her web­site, el­liead­vice.com. Follow @el­liead­vice.

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